Classic Coleslaw

Favorite SummerQuick and EasyCabbageColeslaw

Here's a classic coleslaw recipe made with thinly sliced cabbage, carrots and green onion, seasoned with mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar dressing. It's what you want for picnics, backyard BBQs, and summer potlucks!

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

What is Coleslaw

The word “coleslaw” comes from the Dutch word, “koolsla”, “kool” meaning cabbage and “sla” meaning lettuce or salad. The word entered our English language from the Dutch in New York in the late 1700s. Since then it has been a featured side dish at almost every picnic or barbecue in America.

How to Make Coleslaw

We have homemade coleslaw at least once a week, usually with fish, and often with burgers or hot dogs. This coleslaw recipe (our way of preparing it) is ridiculously easy with cabbage, carrot, and onions gently mixed and coated with mayonnaise, a dab of yellow mustard (which by the way is just Dijon mustard with some added turmeric), vinegar, and black pepper.

Classic homemade Coleslaw in bowl

Coleslaw Recipe Modifications

We also often make this coleslaw recipe without mayonnaise. Sometimes we dress it simply with seasoned rice vinegar. Sometimes we add some shredded green apple to the mix. You can easily adjust these coleslaw ingredients for your taste. (See links at the bottom of the recipe for more coleslaw ideas.)

Are you a coleslaw eater? If so, what’s your favorite way of preparing it?

More Easy Summer Side Dishes

Updated May 29, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes were made to the original recipe.

Classic Coleslaw Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4

If you are making a lot of coleslaw, it's easiest to use a mandoline to slice the cabbage.

However you slice the cabbage, you'll have an easier time of it if you cut the head first in quarters, from the top through the core. Then lay a quarter wedge of cabbage on its side and cut out the core.


  • 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (green or purple, or a mix)
  • 1 carrot, grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar or wine vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)


1 Assemble the salad: Place the cabbage, carrot, and onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing ingredients and gently mix so that all of the shredded cabbage is coated with the dressing.

2 Serve: Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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77 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Sheila

    Bland and dry. This needs something but no idea what! I tried adding a little more mayo but that didn’t help.


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  2. Karen

    We call it German coleslaw

  3. Karen

    My Mom always made this for my Daddy because he didn’t like the other because he didn’t like mayo. Not knowing this had mayo in it lol. My Mom had forgot over the years how she had made it. So I’m so glad I came across your recipe. Can not wait to try it. Thank you so much. Karen

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  4. Jean Cousar

    Best coleslaw I’ve made. Didn’t have green onion or yellow mustard so used red onion and american mustard. Thanks for the recipe.


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  5. Shirley

    Almost spot on except I always use some finely diced celery and occasionally some cucumber and bell pepper. I don’t use carrots as they are a mess to shred and they stain. In addition I use a combination of mayo and sour cream and I add just a bit of sugar to offset the vinegar. Last of all my secret ingredient is celery seed.

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